Finally, I would like to dedicate this thesis to my grandparents. I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have grandparents who have shown me

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1 ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I wish to express a sincere thank you to the fifteen men and women who so graciously agreed to participate in my study. In the course of gathering this material, interviewing the participants, and collecting the data, I had invaluable assistance from the men and women who volunteered to share with me their life histories of their involvement in physical exercise. Without them, the completion of this study would not have been possible. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every one of them and learned so much from their exercise wisdom that I can share with all of you, and with my own family in the years that follow. The older adults remarkable source of energy kept me motivated and smiling throughout this process. I can only hope that in my sixth and seventh decades of life that I am still as willing, able, dedicated, and determined to participate in physical exercise as these older adults. Through it all, Dr. Karen Roberto, my committee chair and extremely talented mentor, has also been a tremendous source of energy for me, I am more grateful to her than she will ever know. I thank her for her enthusiasm for the subject matter and for tirelessly providing me with revisions in twenty four-hour time spans. Special thanks go to Advisory Committee members, Dr. Pamela B. Teaster and Dr. Rosemary Blieszner whose knowledge, energy, and enthusiasm were critical to this effort. I thank all of my committee members for simultaneously encouraging, guiding, and supporting my research ideas and me. I believe that I am tremendously fortunate to have worked with three outstanding individuals and scholars, and am deeply appreciative to each of them for their important contributions. I am grateful for the love, encouragement, and tolerance of Matt Mogel, the man who has made all the difference in my life. Without his patience and sacrifice, I could not have completed this thesis. A special word of thanks also goes to my family for their continuous support and encouragement. iv

2 Finally, I would like to dedicate this thesis to my grandparents. I have been extremely fortunate in my life to have grandparents who have shown me unconditional love and support. The relationships and bonds that I have with my grandparents hold an enormous amount of meaning to me. I admire them for all of their accomplishments in life, for their independence, for their hierarchical role in our family, and for all of the knowledge and wisdom that they have passed on to their grandchildren over the years. Personally, my grandparents have played an important role in the development of my identity and shaping the individual that I am today. They have taught me a great deal about the aging process and about growing old gracefully. It is because of them and their aging needs that I chose to pursue a professional career in Gerontology. v

3 TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract... ii Acknowledgements... iv Table of Contents... vi List of Tables... ix Chapter...Page 1. Introduction Literature Review...4 Overview of the Literature...4 Benefits of Exercise...5 Participation in Exercise...5 Motivation to Exercise...6 Self-Efficacy...7 Life Course Approaches to Studying Exercise...8 Societal Processes and Opportunities...9 Life Course Roles and Transitions...10 Definitions and Meanings of Physical Exercise...11 Theoretical Framework...12 Life Course Perspective...12 Strength and Weakness of Exercise and Aging Literature...15 Significance of Research in Relation to Existing Work Methodology...17 Qualitative Methodology...17 Sample...17 Sample Selection Criterion...17 Exercise Participation Records...18 Sample Selection...18 Sample Description...20 Data Collection Procedures...22 The Interview...22 vi

4 Chapter...Page Pilot Interviews...26 Definition of Terms...27 Data Analysis...28 Limitations of Study Findings...31 Life Course Influences in Adolescence and Childhood...32 Childhood Experiences of Play and Games...32 Early Childhood Socialization Processes...33 Recess, Physical Education, and Organized Sports...36 Childhood Farm Work as Exercise...38 Perceptions of Childhood Activities...40 Life Course Influences in Young Adulthood...43 Men s Participation in Exercise during Young Adulthood...44 Women s Participation in Exercise...45 Roles and Transitions in Middle Adulthood...46 Family and Career Responsibilities in Middle Adulthood...46 Life Course Influences in Late Adulthood...51 Late Adulthood Transitions and Exercise...52 Barriers and Motivators...55 Geographical Influences...56 Gender and Opportunities for Exercise...58 Health and Exercise...58 Relationship Influences on Exercise...61 Quality of Life Issues...64 Physical Well-Being...64 Psychological Well-Being...65 Social Well-Being...66 Where they would be Without Exercise...66 Future Outlook on Exercise Participation...67 vii

5 Chapter...Page Advice to Baby Boomers and Generation Xers Conclusions and Implications...70 References...79 Appendix A...85 Appendix B Appendix C Appendix D...92 Appendix E Vita...99 viii

6 LIST OF TABLES Table.....Page 1. Statistics from Wellness Center s 55+ Gold Card Membership List at the Wellness Center Background Characteristics of the Participants Wellness Center Participation Activities Across the Life Course Participants Health Problems...61 ix

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